Tipple of the Week: Forralt Bor

A glass of forralt bor, courtesy of wuestenigel
A glass of forralt bor, courtesy of wuestenigel

One of the first things we expats discover in Hungary is the alcohol. It’s not by chance we have a weekly tipple column here at Pulse. While we’re normally beer lovers, Hungarian wines are generally very decent, and there’s a good reason that you have to hunt to find imported wine.

But forget all about that and pick up a cheap and nasty bottle of red, because this week, we’re teaching you how to make your very own hagyományos forralt bor, the likes of which they’re fencing up and down Váci utca.

(You can buy a cheap and nasty bottle, and it’ll taste all right, but the better the wine, the better the outcome will be.)

You’ll Need

  • A bottle of dry red wine (or two, if you want to make enough to share, just don’t forget to double everything else)—száraz vörös bor
  • 6 tablespoons of sugar (—cukor
  • 6 whole cloves—szegfűszeg
  • 1 stick of cinammon—fahéj
  • 1 whole orange—narancs

Be sure to avoid anything őrölt (ground), the key word for your ingredients is egész (whole), unless you’re buying nutmeg.


  1. Throw it all into a pot and stir it on a medium heat.
  2. Erm, drink it?

In all seriousness, it’s not a tough drink to make, but be careful not to heat it above about 70°C or you’ll end up cooking off the alcohol. It’s also a good idea to zest the orange (or add the zest of a second orange to add some taste). It shouldn’t take much longer than about 30 mins to be great. If you have a slow cooker, run it for an hour or two on the low heat setting.


Here’s where you can start to have fun. Here are some optional extras, suggested quantities per bottle of wine.

  • Swap the red wine for white wine (or for apple juice for an alcohol free version even kids can enjoy)
  • Swap the sugar for 7 tablespoons of honey—méz
  • Swap the white sugar for 8 tablespoons of brown sugar—barna cukor
  • Add two berries of allspice—szegfűbors
  • Chuck in half a sliced lemon—citrom
  • Add a tablespoon of lemon juice—citrom lé
  • Add a half-inch piece (approx. one teaspoon) of sliced ginger—gyömber
  • Add a bay leaf—babérlevél
  • Add in a teaspoon of ground nutmeg—őrölt szerecsendió
  • Add three peppercorns—szemes bors
  • Throw in a shot of brandy—brandy
  • Add in a vanilla pod—vaniíliarúd

A nice cup of forralt bor is always a welcome treat on a cold winter evening. Pair it off with a nice batch of mézeskalács for a perfect treat (recipe coming soon!)